Although Christmas is usually a time of joy and good cheer, in the year 1900, for the small neighborhood community of Woodland, Missouri, the happiest of holidays were marred by a terrifying and noisy creature.

Deena West Budd

Five miles southwest of Palmyra, at the intersection of Highways F and E, are a few houses - the remains of the small unincorporated community of Woodland, Missouri. At one time, Woodland was a bit larger and even included a post office from 1876 to 1941.

The 13 December 1900 issue of the Palmyra Spectator reported that a ghost had been heard in the Woodland and Shannon’s Shop neighborhoods for two weeks.

The “strange noises” caused “much terror among horses and cows” in the area during this time.

One night, Harvey Crane, son of “well-known farmer Harvey Crane” ran into the house saying he had heard the creature outside near the barn. He could not see the “thing,” but he “could locate it by the sound.”

Harvey begged his father to take his shotgun outside and kill the creature, but Cal declined to do so and elected to stay in the house.

A few days later, on a Saturday night, Dan Miller and Bob Nelson were riding their horses to the Pleasant Hill Church to practice for a Christmas show. They hadn’t been on the road too long when they were startled by “an unearthly noise behind them.” Their horses took off galloping down the road snorting with terror.”

As the horses continued racing down the road, the “hair-raising cries” seemed to keep pace with them, although the boys could see nothing.

When they arrived at the church with their frightening tale, the male members of the congregation retrieved their guns and organized a posse to “hunt down the monster.”

As they searched, the strange noises were heard again and again, but no one could see any trace of what was causing the commotion.

Charlie Lake reported that “people in the haunted territory are much disturbed over the matter and many of them refuse to go out after nightfall.”

Frank Grossman stayed up all night one Saturday armed with his shotgun and a bag of shells.

Some residents described the noises the creature made as sounding like the roar of a lion. It was also said to sound like an animal choking.

The newspaper story requested that “Squire Lear” issue a warrant to be served by “Constable Tom Lee.”

The “haunting” didn’t last long, as the 31 January 1902 issue of the Palmyra Spectator included a comment that the Woodland Ghost hadn’t been heard from for quite a while.